WFH, the acronym and soundtrack of 2020. Once an aspirational dream of the average work commuter and forward-thinking millennial – now the world’s new norm, with Covid-19 accelerating a growing trend into an unavoidable certainty.
For some employers, WFH has finally knocked the office space over the edge. Transitioning the traditional work place from necessary investment to a now, antiquated notion of 9 to 5 capitalism. Much like the evolution from shop window to online retail – the office, to some, has become an outdated mode of working, no longer reflective of the transformative world of seamless connectivity and accessible touchpoints.
As for employees, WFH has helped some in restoring a sense of ‘work-life balance’ – and we mean ‘life’ with a small l here / big L for Lockdown. An opportunity to increase focus, reduce stress (where possible) and take care of personal, home or family demands, simultaneous to their career. In 2018, 86% of millennials said they would actually consider a pay cut, to be able to work from home1. And with the rapid growth of digital platforms proving the feasibility of such working practices – it’s hard to imagine a traditional return to the office as an attractive prospect for all.
But WFH is far from the new Utopia. For employers and employees alike, the office remains an ideal, communal hub for which to instil a much-needed sense of connection, culture and comradery, across their organisation. Contrary to the notion that remote working leads to an increase in ‘focused working,’ 85% of 2,000 UK employees reported to ‘more likely engage in non-work-related activities’2 whilst at home. With the demands and distractions of work life/home life, an inevitable part of WFH and the amour starting to dwindle (compounded by national lockdowns) – some employees are seeking a renewed, line of separation. The office, providing an optimal setting away from the hubbub of everyday life, is for many, a welcome change, helping to inspire motivation, wellbeing and job satisfaction.
Across the globe, WFH has provided the opportunity for businesses and brands to test drive the practicalities of remote working, digital capabilities and virtual collaboration, resulting in a natural rethink of the purpose of the traditional office space. For those that decide to keep it, at least in some capacity, a hybrid model and better utilisation of space is fast becoming the go-to approach.
At C21, we are aiming to deliver this – best of both worlds – offering an evolving space for which to inspire connectivity and community whilst retaining the flexibility of working from home. In consultation with our team, we went back to the drawing board, working with @FERIOUS to craft a human-centric, adaptable, design model, enabling productivity, wellbeing and autonomous working. From the old static rows of allocated desks to open plan workspaces, agile areas, task-focused zones and leisure hubs – our minimalist interior is a free flowing (covid safe), social oasis. The design, with its flexible furnishings, ergonomic furniture and house plants, could be reminiscent of a quirky coffee shop than a typical, global agency (even with all the smart tech). But the question still remains – will adapting to the space be smooth sailing or a shock to the system? In our industry, we’ve come to know that there can be a big difference between what people say they need and what they actually do. With the team raring to bask in the glory of their new ‘office’ it’ll be interesting to see whether agile working in application is a winner for all.
1 – 2018 LinkedIn Workplace Culture Report
2 – Protect Your Bubble Survey